The South Downs National Park: Interesting Facts and Useful Links



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Covering a wide area of beautiful countryside, the Sussex Downs provide a stirring location for walking, cycling, horse riding and a great many places to visit. Our current blog provides eye-opening facts, local highlights and several handy linked resources to get Park House visitors started:

The Lungs of the South East: Compared to most of South and South East England, the Downs are sparsely populated and represent a crucial area of clean, green space. Perhaps this is why visitors love the hotel’s relaxing location and that priceless sense of tranquillity? Interestingly though, historians have found evidence that the area was once far more heavily inhabited in Anglo-Roman times. Burial sites, mines and archaeological remains have been discovered at various points.


Unique History: The South Downs have over 660 protected sites of special interest and 5,171 listed buildings. One of the best West Sussex attractions to discover more about such places and the lost dwellers of the Downs is at the Weald and Downland Museum, which is also not far at around 5 miles from Park House.
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Space to Roam: The South Downs are roughly 70 miles across and 10 miles wide, covering three counties (Hampshire, East Sussex and West Sussex) and countless acres of publically accessible land. As seems fitting for such a rambler’s paradise, the National Park also includes the South Downs Way. At over 160km long, this is one of England’s longest stretches of public bridleway. Walkers, riders and cyclists love the space and freedom afforded. You can find your way onto this great ancient bridleway just a few hundred yards south of Park House. For more info on walking routes, with some handy downloads, try the following link: http://www.westsussex.info/south-downs-way.shtml

Britain’s Newest National Park: Given special status only as late as in 2011, the South Downs are something of a late arrival as our newest National Park. Why should this area command special status? Aside from the vital need to secure green space and natural heritage against creeping development, the biodiversity of the Downs is also a significant factor. Among the residents are many unusual plants and animals, including 39 species of butterfly including the rare Duke of Burgundy. Barn owls, rare bats and orchids are other treasures of the Downs.

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High Points and Grand Views: There are many viewpoints on the South Downs, but Butser Hill is the highest point of them all. It is 271 metres high and a great vantage point to look out across the national park. It is about 40 minutes drive west of Park House, and is also the site of a nature reserve. Closer to home, you have Cocking Down (right next to Cocking Village) and Linch Down, another two lofty viewpoints to look out over the Sussex Downs.

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Outdoor Pursuits on the South Downs: The figures alone will tell you that the South Downs are a paradise for ramblers, cyclists and lovers of the outdoors. Some 39million people visit the area annually to explore over 3,300 km of paths and byways; more than any other national park. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Walking Routes: With literally hundreds of hectares of public space and safe trails to roam, the South Downs are a paradise for explorers. An ordnance survey map would be an excellent investment for the visitor, although you will also find some reliable online sources and recommended walks on sites such as the http://www.southdowns.gov.uk/enjoy/explore/walking/ 

Riding: A wealth of green space with few cars make for refreshingly peaceful horse riding on the Sussex South Downs. There are many riding schools and services in the area, but the closest to us are Eastwood Stud Farm, who can provide help and tuition for all ages and abilities: http://www.eastwoodstudfarm.co.uk/ Prefer to plug Lavant House stables....the hotel recommends them as well as someone in Haslemere....

Cycling:  The hotel has 2 adult bikes and 2 childrens’ bikes for guests to use for excursions- just ask at reception. There are many safe public bridleways and trails to explore, but keen cyclists might also be interested in the following Telegraph article, which includes a route very near our base on the Downs: www.telegraph.co.uk

Geocaching: For the uninitiated, geocaching is like a digital treasure hunt. Participants use their smartphones to find leads and clues to nearby Geocaches- which can be fiendishly well hidden. A great way of getting techy youngsters into the great outdoors, it is suitable for all and there are literally dozens of locations on the South Downs. Getting started with a free app is easy. Just go to: www.geocaching.com

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